(CNN)Debates implicit LeBron James' greatness compared to Michael Jordan connected a hoops tribunal volition proceed successful perpetuity, but "Space Jam: A New Legacy" won't substance overmuch chatter astir who's the amended actor. Putting James successful Jordan's shoes, arsenic it were, isn't a atrocious thought successful theory, but contempt the unusual infinitesimal of inspired Looney Tune-acy, this reboot shoots a precise large and thudding airball.
A quarter-century aft the archetypal "Jam" assembled a squad of NBA superstars to stave disconnected an alien threat, this 1 journeys into interior space, portion offering adjacent much opportunities for synergistic tie-ins involving the immense Warner Bros. library. (The workplace is simply a portion of WarnerMedia, arsenic is CNN.)
The irony is that the movie owes possibly its biggest thematic indebtedness not to a Warner Bros. spot but a Disney one, since the premise has a full batch of "Tron" baked into it, with James getting sucked into the studio's "Serververse," wherever the villain is an artificial quality known arsenic Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle, doing what small helium tin with not precise much), who wants to squad up with the King earlier turning against him.
There is besides a large dollop of heart, successful what feels similar a precise kid-movie flourish, involving James' narration with his young lad Dom (Cedric Joe), who doesn't stock his dad's hoops passionateness for basketball, preferring to codification and programme video games.
Within the machine world, James indispensable triumph implicit Al's squad oregon hazard losing his kid, uncovering allies (admittedly not his archetypal choice) successful the Looney Tunes characters, who don't stock his enthusiasm for hard enactment and the fundamentals.
The buildup is frankincense again toward a crippled with higher stakes than the NBA Finals, pitting the Tune Squad against the algorithm's Goon Squad, though the video-game elements of that marque it adjacent harder to travel what's happening.
At 2 hours "A New Legacy"goes into what feels similar overtime, which becomes numbing with this benignant of sight-gag-driven construct. As a result, for the funny the movie mightiness play amended astatine location connected HBO Max, wherever viewers tin astatine slightest intermission and admit the champion ocular gags that alert by.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee ("Girls Trip") from a publication credited to capable writers to capable a starting squad positive a sixth man, determination are a fewer clever moments. They see the Looney Tunes characters morphing from accepted cel animation into computer-generated forms, and a transportation gathering astatine Warner Bros. (naturally) wherever James is decently skeptical astir the workplace projects being thrown astatine him.
"Athletes and acting, that ne'er goes well," helium says.
Actually, James' acting isn't that bad, and he's surely made an interaction successful Hollywood already arsenic a shaper (a recognition helium besides holds here, on with "Black Panther's" Ryan Coogler) and budding media mogul. Still, carrying an full movie -- adjacent with each the animated mayhem astir him -- feels similar a batch to ask, peculiarly with the father-son dynamic that grounds the story.
As for the animation, which has already included odd second-guessing astir a redesigned Lola Bunny (voiced by Zendaya), immoderate the style, the wide effect falls flat.
The archetypal "Space Jam" was hardly a classic, which should temper expectations. Yet adjacent by that standard, this marketing-driven workout excessively often plays similar the Acme mentation of it.
James has enactment unneurotic championship-caliber teams successful aggregate cities, portion studios person travel to trust connected the sanction designation of reboots. While it's casual to spot the entreaty of wedding a existent NBA superstar to specified a acquainted supporting cast, this time, the algorithm lets them down.
"Space Jam: A New Legacy" premieres July 16 successful theaters and connected HBO Max. It's rated PG.